Nato says Russia on ‘dangerous path’ by moving to annex Crimea

US vice president says move in Ukraine a ‘land grab’ and assures alliance members


Nato secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen has condemned Russia’s move to annex Ukraine’s Crimea region, saying Moscow had embarked on a “dangerous path”.

“I condemn president (Vladimir) Putin’s announcement of new laws incorporating Crimea into the Russian Federation, ” Mr Rasmussen said in a statement.

Russia has disregarded all calls to step back into line with international law and continues down the dangerous path.”

He said there “can be no justification to continue on this course of action that can only deepen Russia’s international isolation”.

“Crimea’s annexation is illegal and illegitimate and Nato allies will not recognise it,” Mr Rasmussen added.

The United States tonight indicated it may run more ground and naval military exercises to help Baltic states near Russia beef up their capacity.

Vice president Joe Biden made the announcement to reassure Nato allies alarmed by the Crimean crisis.

Moscow’s decision to send troops to Crimea and its unilateral declaration that the area is now part of Russia have left Nato member states in eastern Europe worried that they could be next in line.

In the Polish capital, on the first leg of a two-day trip to the region, Mr Biden condemned Russia’s actions in Crimea as a land grab, and he said Nato’s commitment to protect any of its members from attack was unwavering.

“We are exploring a number of additional steps to increase the pace and scope of our military cooperation including rotating US forces to the Baltic region to conduct ground and naval exercises and training missions,” he said after talks with Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who was visiting Warsaw.

A senior administration official told reporters more details about the proposed new military exercises would be released in the days ahead. “This would not be a fundamental expansion, or crossing of a basic line, so to speak,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It’s more an opportunity to enhance our capacity to do training with them actually in the region.”

Earlier, at a briefing alongside Polish prime minister Donald Tusk, Mr Biden described Russia’s actions as an assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and a violation of international law.

“Russia has offered a variety of arguments to justify what is nothing more than a land grab,” he said. “But the world has seen through Russia’s actions and rejected the logic, the flawed logic, behind those actions.”